France: Consumer confidence soars in March
March 27, 2012
In March, the consumer sentiment index published by the National Statistical Institute (INSEE) jumped to 87 points from 82 points in February, the highest level since February 2011. The reading surprised market analysts, who had expected the index to remain unchanged from February and, in fact, marked the largest gain since May 2007. Despite the improvement, consumer confidence remains below its long-term average of 100 points. Households were less downbeat about their own financial situation as well as employment prospects. In addition, the perception of the national outlook for the next 12 months improved substantially. Meanwhile, consumers' willingness to make major purchases remained unchanged over the previous month. Depressed consumer confidence does not bode well for private consumption going forward.